The Tyranny of 'Reproductive Justice'
By Regis Nicoll
November 12, 2012
Ever since Sandra Fluke made a splash at the congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act, we've been hearing a lot about "reproductive justice." Not so surprising, perhaps, given that Fluke is a past president of the Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice.
But what is "reproductive justice"?
It strikes me as a rather strange pairing of words, for what does justice have to do with a basic biological function? And if reproductive justice exists, why not respirative, digestive, or cardio-vascular justice? If you find yourself similarly puzzled, SisterSong, a self-described "women of color" advocacy group, explains, "Reproductive justice [is] the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments . . . based on the human right to make personal decisions about one's life."
And where is the right to have children, or not, a problem, outside of China with its "one-child" policy? Certainly not in the United States, where a 40 percent birth rate to unwed mothers is evidence that neither marital status, church teaching, nor social stigma is a barrier to those "personal decisions about one's life."
What's more, with over 1 million abortions per year, even a woman who is carrying a child doesn't have to bear it if she doesn't want to-and that includes pregnant minors who can so decide, free from parental permission or notification.
Considering the recently passed legislation in New York City to restrict the sale of sugary drinks, maybe a bigger threat is to "dietary justice"-that is, "the right to drink, not to drink, and to enjoy the beverages of our choice."
What about . . .
Conspicuously absent from the Cause is any mention of the other essential party in reproduction: men. For instance, SisterSong goes on to say that "the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one's decisions is important for women of color." (Emphasis added). But not for men, or at least men of color?
What about the injustice to the man who has no legal recourse to oppose his girlfriend's or wife's decision to abort his child? What about the gender bias in a court system that awards child custody preferentially to mothers, even in cases where real differences in parental fitness and ability are documented? What about a health care law that requires women's, but not men's, contraception services to be provided for free?
True justice requires that if one party in the reproduction process is owed duty, so is the other. Applying "reproductive justice" exclusively to the "rights" of women is like applying criminal justice only to the rights of plaintiffs and not defendants, or vice versa.
Then there's that "obligation of government and society" part. What about personal obligation? You know, the responsibility of individuals to control their passions and behaviors for their good and that of society, with particular concern in this case for those born, those waiting to be born, and those who could be born. Again, the Cause is silent.
What it is not silent about is the desire for sexual expression unencumbered by personal consequences and cost.
In Sandra Fluke's congressional testimony, she defended the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, a requirement under the ACA that unburdens women from the financial costs of consequence-free (via contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization) sex at their employers' expense, despite any religious objections their employers might have.
Emerging from the hearing as the fresh, new face of the lifestyle left, Fluke so charmed the Democratic National Committee that she was awarded a prime-time speaking slot at their convention, where she extended her 15 minutes of fame for a few minutes more.
But the goal of the Cause goes beyond liberating women from the costs and consequences of their "personal decisions about life"; it aims to free them from shame of those decisions as well.
For instance, A Is For is a reproductive justice movement "challenging the traditional meaning of the scarlet letter by encouraging women, and the men who support them, to wear the A proudly." (Men, it will be noted, are referenced only in the context of supporting the decisions of the women in their lives.) Their inspiration comes from "Nathaniel Hawthorne's fictional heroine . . . Hester Prynne," a woman who, as they put it, was "branded by her fellows for daring to live a life according to her own conscience."
So, a married woman who commits adultery and has another man's child is not immoral, impious, or even imprudent; she's heroic for following her own moral lights. That takes calling good evil and evil good to a whole new level.
A Is For parallels the tasteless "I had an abortion" T-shirt drive started by Jennifer Baumgardner, promoted by Planned Parenthood, and currently causing quite a stir at one college campus.
According to Glora Feldt of PP, the purpose of the T-shirt is "to challenge the silence and shame" surrounding abortion. I'm sure the effect that shame has on the balance sheet of the nation's top abortion provider is of no concern to Ms. Feldt.
That shame, Baumgardner tells us, is that:
"We're called 'sluts' and 'prostitutes.'" [I'm with you here, Jennifer-name-calling, and those who do it, are wrong.]
"We're told to 'put an aspirin' between our legs." [Well, if you're unmarried or not ready for children or other "consequences," it's a surefire method-in fact, the surest.]
"We're made to believe that it's our ignorance, and not our experience, that drives our desire for autonomy and freedom from forced procreation." [Now, just who is it that's forcing you to procreate? I'm ready to take names.]
"We're lectured that we shouldn't have had sex in the first place, as if sex were not a natural aspect of our humanity that we have every right to express." [You're right, sex is a natural part of our humanness-but more than that, it is essential, not because it serves to satisfy our sensual desires, but because without it, the human race would quickly join the ranks of endangered species.]
"We're told we must face the 'consequences' of our sexual actions, as if we weren't already painfully aware of the consequences of life without contraception, having lived, and died, without it for centuries." [You want freedom from personal consequences, not by restricting your sexual behaviors, but by "protections" paid for by others. Got it.]
In lockstep with Baumgardner, A Is For urges followers to proudly wear the A against the "aggressive legislative assault" on women's health and freedom by, among other things, "personhood bills." Granted, legislation aimed at protecting the unborn is an inconvenience to a woman seeking total sexual freedom, but an "assault" on her health? Really?
If you've been wondering what the A stands for? "The A is for Autonomy. It's for Allegiance. It's for Action" or whatever strikes your fancy. A is for . . . you fill in the blank.
A few words that occur to me are "arrogant," "autocratic," "appalling," and "abominable." Too harsh? I don't think so.
When others are forced to pay for protecting me against consequences I find undesirable for behaviors I've willingly chosen, it's robbery.
When my "right" to free sexual expression overrides someone else's right to free religious exercise, it's religious oppression.
When a mother's autonomy over her body trumps the right to life of the child in her body, it's pedicide.
And when such things are done in the name of "justice," it is not justice at all, but tyranny.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. Serving as a men's ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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